West Tennessee Haiti Partnership


Every time we pray the confession we say these words, asking forgiveness for things done and left undone.  Last day at St Vincent’s is always full of regrets and hopes.

The  daily office reading this morning was from I Corinthians 13.  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am as a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I give away all my possessions and give my body to be burned, but have not love, I have gained nothing.  This  passage was read by Zara this morning, our OT from Fayetteville Arkansas, by way of England.  All of us listening, with the St Vincent’s children on our hearts this morning, thinking of the one thousand things we wanted to do for them before we leave Haiti.  Knowing deep down that this is not possible.

Bergens is a boy with scoliosis who has one digit attached where his right arm should be.  He has no left arm  He is a beautiful and intelligent child who has won the heart of many a team member, including John Mutin and Sue Trzynka.  

Our therapists Ruth and Zara were concerned enough about this child that last night  I sent an email to Dr Beauvoir, who is a Haitian  orthopedist who works at St VIncent’s once a week.  Dr Beauvoir dropped by today….that is the first amazing bit of story, that Dr Beauvoir, a successful orthopedic surgeon in Haiti, dropped by today in response to my email to examine this child.   He agrees that the boy needs major surgery and will see him in clinic next week, make xrays and send them to me.  Then we will begin the hard task of determining where this major surgery can be done.

Later this afternoon, Ruth and Zara were working with Bergens, trying to figure out how to design a prosthesis to help him use the small (and only) digit he has for an arm.  They have brought foam noodles (the kind you play with in swimming pools) and used them for all manner of purposes, including cushioning bars on wheelchairs, making supports for kids with poor trunk stability, and the like.  Ruth told me she heard this BANG BANG BANG across the room, and looking up she saw Bergens banging this 6 inch piece of foam noodle for all it was worth.  He had shoved his single digit into the central opening of the foam noodle and was banging it against the chair.  Ruth realized with a shock that he had designed his own prosthesis.  She placed a spoon into the other end of the noodle and VOILA he could now feed himself!  She put a paint brush in it and now he could paint.  Magnficent! For $1.99, Bergens has a working prosthesis.

At day’s end we sat on the steps of St Vincent’s and listened to Mackenson, Geraldo, Konbit and Reginald sing for us.  


Mackenson, Reginald and Geraldo

All the boys except Mackenson are blind; Geraldo and Mackenson played guitar.  Geraldo has a beautiful falsetto voice.  The boys are about 20 years old, handsome and tall, singing in four part harmony.  The team sat on the steps, surrounded (and covered) by children of all sizes.  The deaf children sat with us; I don’t know how much they can hear but they enjoyed the music with everyone else.  Jan sat with a series of children, taking turns on her lap. 

Edie rested her head against Anne Boykin and I sat next to Marie Carmelle, my favorite place at St Vincent’s.  


Susan and
Marie Carmelle

Anne and Edie

As I looked at the faces of the people I had seen in clinic during the week, I thought for the thousandth time that I bring such a little offering to these wonderful people, and yet they welcome me and my friends and team members with love and  music and kindness. 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

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